In Haiti, rural families living in poverty will often send their children to work for and live with host families as domestic servants in exchange for better access to food, housing, and education. The host families, however, rarely hold up their end of the bargain. Instead, the children are exploited for their labor, working day and night, while being denied the nutrition, security, and education they so desperately need.
Although this exchange has typically been carried out between rural and urban families, the above survey highlights the practice’s expanding geography. Haiti is still a largely rural country, but it also has major urban centers such as Port-au-Prince and its suburbs boasting populations of around 3,000,000 residents. At the same time, you have the far more common smaller communes throughout the country, such as Les Anglais, with a population of about 28,000.
Administratively, Haiti is divided into 10 departments—comparable to states in the US and provinces in Canada—41 arrondissements, and 133 communes, which make up the third level of local government. Restavek children can be found in numerous communes and every department, revealing the regular and systemic nature of the practice. These exploited children are located throughout Haiti’s diverse suburbs, urban centers, coastal towns, and mountain villages.
Notably, the above graphic also reveals that there are statistically higher numbers of female than male children living as Restaveks. According to the survey, nearly 30% of female respondents live with families other than their own, compared to 20% of their male counterparts.
As a 501(c)(3) charity, the mission of Haiti-Now is to provide a more comprehensive solution for Haiti’s Restavek girls to escape poverty and exploitation. We will do this by building a safe-house and accelerated school to provide Restavek girls the housing, security, community, and education they so deeply deserve.